The West lacks a strategy to tackle ISIS

The West’s confrontation with the imperialist barbaric ISIS terrorists is floundering, and the reason is chiefly because the West lacks any coherent strategy.

Daniel Pipes was interviewed for a magazine recently and gives us the transcript in a fascinating article in which he explains both how ISIS rose so quickly, where it gets its support from, and why the West is finding it so hard to tackle it.  In short, the West has no plan:

First, the insidious role of Turkey:

What role does the Turkish government play in this conflict?

It’s the primary backer of ISIS. Without Turkish support, ISIS would not be where it is. Qatar is important, too, as a major source of financial support, but Turkey provides more than that: arms, refuge, training and medical assistance. There are even reports of retired Turkish soldiers serving in ISIS.

But why should the Turkish government have any interest at all in encouraging problems along its own border?

Erdoğan had such close personal relations with Bashar al-Assad that he and his wife vacationed with the Assads. When the troubles began in early 2011, Erdoğan gave Assad (good) advice on how to respond. But Assad rejected Erdoğan’s views and Erdoğan, who has a volatile personality, responded with great anger. Since then, Erdoğan has done everything to bring down the Assad regime, including support for ISIS.

So it all boils down to the vanity of one man?

In large part, yes. Erdoğan dominates Turkish politics. Especially since the elections of 2011, he has done whatever he wishes.

Indeed, Turkish journalist Burak Bekdil, writing about anti-Jewish attitudes in Turkey at the Gatestone Institute, says that according to at least one Turkish judge, there are 44 million Zionists in Turkey!

… upon Erdogan’s election victory on March 30, he had written that, “The losers (at the ballot box) are Zionists and their conspirators.” Just imagine a Turkish Jew having a legal dispute with a Muslim Turk and facing this judge in the courtroom…

There was one problem, though, about the judge’s logic. If all of those Turks who do not love Erdogan are Zionists, election results show that there are nearly forty-four million Zionists in Turkey!

Returning to Pipes’ article:

Do you think that President Obama – or, for that matter, anyone else who holds power – has a plan to stop the jihadi forces in Iraq and Syria?

I see no plan. Western governments are sending arms, hoping that these go to the better – or less worse – elements in Syria, but that hardly constitutes a plan.

President Obama himself admitted (or proudly declared, I’m not sure of his standpoint) that “we don’t have a strategy yet“.  Considering that ISIS, or in its previous incarnation as assorted Jihadist groups, has been a known threat for years, it is incomprehensible and nothing short of a disgrace that the leader of the world’s only superpower didn’t have any strategy ready.

But the President made clear any plan to go after ISIS in Syria would take time and require a regional strategy. “We’re not going to do that alone,” he said.

Among the options Obama said he requested from the U.S. military were plans to make sure ISIS does not overrun Iraq.

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq are working, he said.

“The terrorists of (ISIS) are losing arms and equipment,” Obama said, and Iraqi and Kurdish forces are making inroads.

Map of ISIS, Syrian and Kurdish areas of control of Syria and Iraq

However Obama’s faith in the Kurds’ military prowess might be misplaced as Jonathan Spyer writes that the Kurds are having difficulty fighting ISIS although they confirm that US airstrikes helped them beat ISIS at Mosul Dam.

Today, not only the existence of Iraq is in jeopardy. So is the existence of the KRG itself, assailed by the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham (ISIS), whose harsh brand of Islam is terrifying locals and appalling the world.

A single war between ISIS and the Kurds is now under way, stretching along an enormous front line from Jalawla, near the Iraq-Iran border, all the way to Jarabulus on the frontier between Syria and Turkey.

ISIS has not forgotten Erbil. A terror campaign has begun here. There are mysterious explosions of a type familiar to residents of Iraqi cities further south. Last week, a car bomb ripped through a central neighbourhood, wounding several people.

But Kurdish forces are hunkering down, facing the jihadis with grim determination. With the help of U.S. air cover and Iraqi special fores, they are beginning to reconquer some of the areas lost. Most significantly, these include oilfields near Mosul, retaken this week, and the Mosul Dam, which provides water and electricity for much of northern Iraq.

The Kurds are well aware of what an ISIS victory would mean. After the jihadis took the Mount Sinjar area (Shinghal in Kurdish), they unleashed a series of atrocities that shocked even this most hardened of lands.

At the fly-blown Newroz refugee camp in northern Syria, Yezidi refugees described what happened when ISIS fighters appeared in their villages near the mountain and the peshmerga fled.

“We tried to withdraw all the women and kids from the village. People who could get to the mountains were safe, people who stayed were killed,” said Kawa, 30, who was lucky enough to escape with some of his family.

The refugees’ bitterness at their abandonment by the peshmerga remains raw and palpable. But still more tangible is the sense of stark horror as they recall the jihadis’ actions.

The peshmerga’s failure to hold the line at Sinjar was a shock, both for observers and inhabitants of Kurdish northern Iraq. Gen. Haraki blames it on the help afforded ISIS by local Sunni Arabs.

But the peshmerga’s initial failure was not only the product of local Sunni support for ISIS. These once-vaunted fighters had not taken part in combat for 20 years. Deprived of modern equipment by the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad and the West, which remains suspicious of Kurdish separatist ambitions, they found themselves outgunned and initially outfought by the jihadi blitzkrieg.

But, as the refugees’ testimony suggests, other Kurdish forces appeared at Mount Sinjar mountain — the ragged and formidable fighters of the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) militia from Syria and PKK guerrillas from Turkey.

Armed only with Kalashnikovs and light machine guns, but with much combat experience, these fighters succeeded in opening a road from Sinjar up to Jezza, Rumeilan and then to the refugee camp outside Derik. Tens of thousands of lives may have been saved because of this action.

ISIS has been notably unsuccessful in its efforts to make progress in this little-reported front of the Syrian war.

The opening of the corridor from Mount Sinjar was the most notable achievement yet for the YPG/PKK.

It indicates that, for all their undoubted fanaticism, the jihadis are not invincible and can be turned back when met by equal commitment and greater skill.

This puts the lie to Obama’s ridiculous statement (in the CNN article above) that:

… “the idea that the United States or any outside power would perpetually defeat ISIS … is unrealistic,” Obama said, insisting that a strong, trusted Iraqi government is critical to ousting the Islamist terror group permanently.

Returning to Spyer’s article, he demonstrates precisely how wrong Obama is:

The opportunity, meanwhile, is that Kurdish sovereignty has already emerged as a more benign successor entity in a contiguous line across the old border — and Kurdish forces are today the only ones engaged in earnest against a savage force universally acknowledged to constitute an enemy of humanity.

Gen. Haraki’s statement that the break-up of Iraq represents the solution may well be heard more widely and insistently in the months ahead. This is a war to create new borders, and to hold back the advance of a savagery not seen in the Middle East for a generation.

A hypothetical map of a “new Levant” in the region of Iraq and Syria

Daniel Pipes agrees with Haraki’s estimation about the break-up of Iraq – and Syria:

Should US and European politicians acknowledge that the map of the Middle East could be reshaped, too?

The Middle East is being reshaped. There is no Syria, there is no Iraq, and there is virtually no border between Lebanon and Iran. Kurdish autonomous regions exist in both northern Iraq and north-eastern Syria. Western policy must indeed adjust to the new realities on the ground.

Unfortunately the West seems to be waking up much too slowly and too late to the dangers and new realities enumerated by Daniel Pipes. The Jihadis are already coming home to roost in Europe – or were created in Europe and exported themselves to the Middle East.

A still image from security camera footage of Nemmouche opening fire at the Jewish Museum in Brussels | Photo credit: EPA

For example, the French terrorist who shot up the Jewish Museum in Brussels earlier this year, killing 4 people including 2 Israelis, has been fingered by a French journalist as the captor who held him hostage in Syria and tortured him:

The reporter, Nicolas Henin, said he recognized Mehdi Nemmouche from video shown to him as part of an investigation. He did not elaborate on the nature of the probe, but mentioned that “a judicial procedure” had been launched while he was still a hostage.

“After the arrest of Mehdi Nemmouche I have been shown a few audiovisual documents that allowed me to recognize him formally,” Henin, who was freed on April 20 along with three other French journalists, told a news conference.

He said Nemmouche beat him and although he wasn’t sure if other Western hostages received the same treatment, he heard Syrian prisoners being tortured in the same building.

However, despite the greater number of Muslims living in France than anywhere else, it appears that Britain is Jihad Central (Londonistan as Melanie Phillips put it), and is only now (h/t Henry) waking up to the dangers:

On Monday last week British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed legislation to prevent citizens who joined the Islamic State and other terrorist groups from re-entering Britain to “wreak havoc.” His proposal followed the Aug. 19 release of a video showing a jihadist who spoke with a British accent appearing to behead American journalist James Foley. One day after Mr. Cameron’s announcement, the Islamic State posted a video showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff, ostensibly by the same Briton.

The jihadist’s nationality shocked Britain and the world. It shouldn’t have. Scotland Yard estimates that at least 500 Britons have traveled to the Middle East to join the Islamic State. British-born terrorists have been the most numerous, violent and influential of European jihadists since well before 9/11.

Why Britain? The reasons include the nation’s tradition as a sanctuary for dissidents; a defendant-friendly judiciary; a law-enforcement system with few Muslim informants; a profligate version of multiculturalism; and the misfortune of having Pakistan as the main source of Muslim immigrants.

…the U.K. takes pride in multiculturalism. But as Amartya Sen, the Nobel-laureate economist, puts it, what Britain has is “plural monoculturalism.” This does not promote the mixing of different cultures in a national culture, but rather focuses on preserving cultural identity.

Britain has fewer Muslims than France or Germany, yet its jihadists exceed the number in those countries.

Nowhere else in Europe have authorities felt the need to release a jihadist head count, but in confidential briefings no Belgian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish security official offered me estimates at a fraction of British appraisals. Britain possesses a deeply rooted and insular radical Islam culture. This is why British investigators are having such a tough time identifying the murderer of the two Americans and why British tweets praising the killings abound.

America has to face up to its responsibility as a world superpower – whether it likes it or not – to provide logistical, military, humanitarian and political support to the opponents of ISIS and its Jihadist allies, even if they have to turn up their nose at the idea of an independent Kurdistan.

Update (h/t Elchanan): Israel is rumoured to have been supplying intelligence data to the US and its allies for the campaign against ISIS.

Europe too has to confront the Jihadists in its midst and tackle their ideology and their malign influence amongst the genuinely peaceful Muslims.

If they don’t live up to these expectations we can look forward to ISIS taking control of huge swathes of the Middle East, including oil reserves, destablising the entire region.

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6 Responses to The West lacks a strategy to tackle ISIS

  1. Elchanan Eric Sussman says:

    Did you see in today’s paper. Who do you think is supplying the intelligence give you 1 guess.

    E.

  2. peteca1 says:

    two comments …

    1. Those countries who see the Kurds as enemies have an incentive to use ISIS as a surrogate to do their fighting. Likewise, those countries in the ME who want to see the emerging Sunni State (from Iraq) get larger … have an obvious goal of taking oil and land from the Kurds. Hence, the Kurds are fighting a combination of financial backing and hostile intelligence agencies … no small challenge. Perhaps a challenge that will succeed in eliminating their homeland.
    2. Groups like ISIS thrive from conditions of poverty, confusion, anger, disillusionment and hatred. The ME has been spared a larger war – up until now. But do you really think that situation will continue indefinitely? A major outbreak of new hostilities will certainly give new fuel to feed ISIS.

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      Your point 1 is pretty accurate, but I think the Kurds have a lot of powerful friends too. Also, the emerging state rising out of the ruins of Iraq is not clear yet. Will it be an ISIS state or a “moderate” Sunni state? Everything is in flux and could change at a moment’s notice.

      Your point 2 is only partly correct. As we have seen from the 9/11 terrorists, the British 7/7 terrorists and so many others, poverty does not play a part. They were all from comfortable middle class homes, if not upper class. Terrorist groups appeal to a “radical chic” element amongst youngsters, those who are searching for adventure or an ideal or are rebelling against the establishment.

      I don’t know if we’ll ever see a huge ME war. What we have at the moment is huge enough. We’re just too close to it – inside it even – that we can’t see the bigger picture. This war has been raging for decades, ever since Sykes-Picot divided up the Middle East with no regard for the population spread within it. What we’re seeing today is just another chapter.

  3. Reality says:

    Many many years ago British Jews complained to the police about their fear of walking on the streets in areas where suddenly mosques sprang up.Nothing was done.Britain has bent over backwards to be constantly politically correct vis a vis Muslims.They have never behaved that way towards Jews.The result is their sense of shock.Where were they all these years?Only last year Lee Rigby a soldier was hacked to death in broad daylight.In the video clips you see people walking around carefully!!No screaming or hysteria.The British stiff upper lip and its insistent politically correct way of thinking has let jihadists proliferate unheeded. Shame that all their anger and indifference toIsrael and our suffering at jihadists hands were not spent at looking at what they were doing wrong in their own back yard.They have brought this on themselves.This is exactly why Israel can NEVER rely on international peacekeeping forces.They have no idea of what they are up against and how to deal with it.

    • anneinpt says:

      Excellent comment Reality. You make very pertinent points. What I don’t understand is how the West cannot understand what it is up against. It’s only just now beginning to wake up, and even so they’re still bumbling about without any coherent strategy. It’s a mystery to me. If it’s so clear to us, mere laymen, why can’t they see the danger too?

      As you surmise, their political correctness has blinded them to what’s going on under their noses. Quite pathetic.

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